News / Economy

    EU, China Stumble Toward Solar Trade War

    FILE - Employees examine newly-made solar panels before boxing for shipment at a factory of Yingli Solar in Baoding, Hebei province, August 2, 2012.
    FILE - Employees examine newly-made solar panels before boxing for shipment at a factory of Yingli Solar in Baoding, Hebei province, August 2, 2012.
    Reuters
    China's leadership transition is complicating talks to resolve a multi-billion-dollar dispute with the European Union over solar panels, pushing both sides closer to placing punitive tariffs on each others' exports and risking a trade war.

    The newly-appointed chief of China's Communist Party Xi Jinping is set to take over the presidency at a national congress in March. But the full line-up of government officials is not yet in place and China's current commerce minister is likely to step down after what some have said was a political snub at the party's congress in November.

    EU leaders want to avoid following the United States' decision last year to impose duties on Chinese solar power products, aware that Europe needs China to help it emerge from three years of economic crisis.

    But EU officials and diplomats say they have made little progress, accusing the Chinese of "stonewalling," and are unable to get beyond the outgoing commerce minister, Chen Deming. They complain of a limbo in the ministry that will not end until after the March congress.

    "There is no clarity on what the new leadership thinks about trade," said a senior EU official involved in talks with China. "They are stonewalling and the window of opportunity for a solution on solar panels is closing."

    China's commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told reporters in Beijing this week that officials are "conducting consultations and relevant response work with the concerned parties," but did not comment on any impact China's leadership transition is having on negotiations.

    Germany, the United States and China are the world's biggest solar markets and companies are in a race to win contracts as countries seek to limit pollution and global warming.

    In a non-binding vote, EU countries approved on Wednesday a request from industry to register solar panels from China, which would allow for retroactive measures if the European Commission agrees to registration and does impose duties.

    But the Commission, the EU executive, denied on Thursday that the decision by member states signalled Brussels was closer to blocking Chinese solar products. "Let's not interpret this as suggesting anything - it is simply administrative procedure," EU trade spokesman John Clancy said in a statement.

    Race Against Time

    European solar panel manufacturers, led by Germany's Solar World, accuse their Chinese counterparts of receiving state subsidies to flood the EU with panels sold below cost and putting Europeans out of business to corner the market.

    The Commission launched an investigation last September into Chinese solar panels, the biggest import sector it has ever targeted. China exported more than $25 billion worth of panels to the European Union in 2011.

    Highlighting the risk of a trade war, Chinese solar companies also accuse the European Union of wrongdoing.

    China says Europe illegally favors it domestic solar panel producers and Beijing is considering its own duties on EU exports of polysilicon, which is used to make solar panels.

    FILE - Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 18, 2012.FILE - Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 18, 2012.
    x
    FILE - Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 18, 2012.
    FILE - Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 18, 2012.
    Complicating things further, some European distributors and installers of Chinese panels say EU tariffs on China would be damaging for Europe's efforts to develop clean energy. They say solar energy is only efficient using Chinese products that are up to 45 percent cheaper than those made in Europe.

    "Even without the [leadership] transition, this is a very difficult issue,'' said Scott Kennedy, director of the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business at Indiana University. "I really don't see a negotiated outcome."

    Time is of the essence because many expect Beijing to make a decision on polysilicon duties as soon as the end of February.

    The EU's investigation must culminate in a decision by June.

    In reality, that is likely to come by mid-April, when diplomats from the EU's 27 countries make their recommendation to the European Commission, which is handling the case.

    Such a timeframe does not give a new trade minister in Beijing much time to get acquainted with the issues and reach a settlement. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said there is no chance of tweaking the investigation's deadline.

    "They know exactly what it is about, the solar panel case. We are consulting them, it is up to them," De Gucht told Reuters. "You cannot have something like a prolongation of that period because there is a transition in China."

    In the past four years, the Commission has only chosen to end one trade defense case in China without imposing duties.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ian from: USA
    February 22, 2013 5:48 PM
    "Complicating things further, some European distributors and installers of Chinese panels say EU tariffs on China would be damaging for Europe's efforts to develop clean energy. They say solar energy is only efficient using Chinese products that are up to 45 percent cheaper than those made in Europe."
    it is the same excuse Walmart used . You save 45% but the hidden cost of european workers losing jobs may be higher than 45% !

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    February 21, 2013 11:20 PM
    Tarrifs/duties are the only way to deal with producers, that do not work from a level playing field; and more importantly to protect home producers from an unfair business practice(s). But the money collected must go to the producers, as compensation...will it?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8954
    JPY
    USD
    110.07
    GBP
    USD
    0.6802
    CAD
    USD
    1.2932
    INR
    USD
    67.080

    Rates may not be current.